Meet America's New Poet Laureate

Philip Levine named to one-year post
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2011 11:14 AM CDT
Philip Levine Named America's New Poet Laureate
In this April 27, 2006, file photo, Pulitzer Prize winning poet Philip Levine is shown at the San Joaquin River Center in Fresno, Calif., where he's recited many of his poems.   (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)

Philip Levine has already won nearly every major prize for his poetry, including two Guggenheims and a Pulitzer, and now he's America's newest poet laureate. The Library of Congress named him to the one-year position today; he succeeds WS Merwin. Growing up, Levine hated "prissy" poetry, which led him to model his rhythms on radio preachers, NPR notes.

Levine's poetry has focused on blue-collar life, and the Library of Congress praised his "plainspoken lyricism," calling him "one of America's great narrative poets." Levine, who was born in 1928, has "championed the art of telling The Simple Truth," a Librarian of Congress continues, referencing one of Levine's collections, "about working in a Detroit auto factory, as he has, and about the hard work we do to make sense of our lives." (More poet laureate stories.)

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